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Sgt. Matthew Tatar and his wife Tiffany in their home with their two-week-old baby boy, who was born May 31 in front seat of their minivan on Purvis Road aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.

Photo by Adele Uphaus-Conner

Baby is born in car aboard MCBQ

22 Jun 2016 | Adele Uphaus-Conner Marine Corps Base Quantico

It was shortly before 5:30 a.m. on May 31. Sgt. Matthew Tatar and his wife Tiffany, both 25, were on their way to Fort Belvoir Community Hospital for the birth of their third child. They had just dropped their older son and daughter at the babysitter and were a quarter mile away from the sitter’s house when Tiffany told her husband to pull their minivan over on the side of Purvis Road aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.

“She was very serious about it,” Tatar, a G6 communications technician, remembered.

Tiffany was 39 weeks pregnant. She had gone into preterm labor at 31 weeks. Doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center were able to stop her labor and she was put on bed rest but continued to have daily contractions.

“I was used to them being pretty painful,” she said. But in the early hours of that Tuesday morning, she could tell something was different, and when her water broke she knew it was time to head to the hospital.

She didn’t even make it a mile out of their Lyman Park neighborhood.

Matthew Tatar pulled the minivan over in front of the Lincoln Military Housing center, dialed 911 on his cell phone, put the phone on speaker, placed it on the floor, and got ready to catch his baby. Tiffany was kneeling backwards in the passenger seat, clutching the headrest.

“911 kept asking me how far apart her contractions were and I was yelling at them ‘I can see the head! I can see the head!’ It was that far along,” he said. “There was no time for me to be nervous or scared. It was either ‘catch your baby or don’t’—there’s no one else to do it.”

At 5:33 a.m., Emergency Management Services dispatched Samuel Clay to the scene. Clay, a veteran Marine military policeman and current field training officer for Quantico Provost Marshal Office (PMO), arrived at 5:36 a.m.

The baby’s head was emerging. He quickly handed a pair of gloves to Tatar, who was able to get one on before he had to catch the head with that hand. Clay helped put the glove on Tatar’s other hand and by 5:39 a.m., the baby, an 8-pound, 3-ounce boy, was fully born.

“He was the biggest of my three babies and, of course, the only one born without an epidural!” Tiffany Tatar said. “I was just focused on pushing. I remember screaming a lot, but it wasn’t from pain, more from adrenaline.”

At 5:40 a.m., one minute after the baby was born, the ambulance arrived. Tatar said he spent that minute just holding his son with both hands, keeping him close to his mother. Then the paramedic let Tatar cut his son’s umbilical cord.

“I had nothing to wrap him in, so I took off my shirt and wrapped him in that and set him on the seat. Then the paramedic said I stood up … and just turned white,” Tatar said.

The ambulance took the family to Potomac Hospital. There were no complications for Tiffany and none for the new baby other than a touch of jaundice. Matthew Tatar went home for a few hours later on the birth day to clean up the minivan. They would need the car for their July 8 move to Rochester, New York, where Tatar will attend the State University of New York as part of the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program. He hopes to return to Quantico in four years to complete Marine officer training at The Basic School.

“We can show our son the side of the road where he was born,” he said.

Despite his dramatic birth, the Tatars said the new baby is “pretty quiet and content.”

Clay said that EMS receives a call about labor pains about four or five times a year. “This was not my first time responding to this kind of call, but this was my first time experiencing a full birth before medical had a chance to arrive,” he said.

“Of course I was nervous,” he continued. “I only had the welfare of that family in mind. The most nerve-wracking thing about that call was waiting to hear the child cry.”

He said that PMO trains “all the time” for the unknown and that is what he enjoys most about his job.

“Being ready for anything and ensuring all my peers are ready is something I take pride in,” he said.

Deputy Police Chief Joseph Riley said that he can’t recall another baby being born in a car aboard base in the 10 years he has been here.

Marine Corps Base Quantico